Excalibur (1st series) #93

Issue Date: 
January 1996
Story Title: 
The Spire

Warren Ellis (writer), Casey Jones (penciler), Tom (inker), Ariane Lenshock with Malibu’s Hues (colorists), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letterer), Suzanne Gaffney (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Pete Wisdom jokes about Professor X in front of Kitty, Meggan and Nightcrawler, until Moira comes and takes him back inside for further tests. Nightcrawler leaves as he is expecting a call from the X-Men’s Beast, which leaves Kitty and Meggan, who go for a walk along the cliff side of Muir Isle. The two women discuss their respective boyfriends until they run into Wolfsbane, who thought she saw something across on the mainland. Meggan she sees a fire in the woodlands. After deciding what to do, Meggan uses her super strength to fly the others across the water, where upon reaching the fire, Meggan literally tells it to “go away”, revealing a young girl at the core of it. Wolfsbane talks to the girl, who is a mutant, who has been harassed by a Reverend in Kinross. Wolfsbane knows who it is, and upon arriving in the village with Kitty and Meggan she confronts Reverend Craig, the man who has haunted her dreams forever. This time, Rahne has power over him though, and exerts her knowledge of Craig to scare him, and hints at her being his daughter, before winning the battle, without even physically touching him.

Full Summary: 

Wearing a flesh-colored swimming cap, the wheelchair-bound Pete Wisdom exits the Muir Isle Medical Research Center, doing an impression of Professor Charles Xavier (or is it Captain Picard?). With a cigarette dangling from his mouth, Pete says ‘To me my X-Men! I sense danger! Make it so! Somebody get me a drink!’ Standing behind her boyfriend, Kitty Pryde mumbles about how ashamed she is, before telling Pete that as far as Charles Xavier impressions go his stunk. Pulling off the swimming cap as the couple approach Nightcrawler and Meggan, the latter somewhat amused at Wisdom’s performance, Pete defends himself by saying he has only seen Xavier on the television.

The elemental Meggan asks Pete if he is feeling better, while Excalibur’s mutant leader, Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner cries blasphemy. Replying to Meggan, Wisdom remarks that he feels like he was just hit in the head by a ‘bloody great Russian’. Seriously, Wisdom tells his teammates that ‘MacTaggert knows her stuff’ as aside from a mild headache and a tightness in his chest, he is much better. Kitty leans onto Pete and tells him that if he quit smoking that the tightness may go away too. ‘I know, I know…’ Pete mumbles as Dr. Moira MacTaggert, brilliant scientist and owner of Muir Isle makes her presence known.

Moira calls out to Wisdom, asking him what he is doing with her swimming cap. Kitty turns to Pete and seems confused, as Pete told her he stole it from Kurt’s room. Nightcrawler looks somewhat annoyed by this lie, but Pete just jokes as he tells Kitty he thought he had stolen it from Kurt’s room, though it being from Moira’s room explains the pink frilly dressing gowns. Moira stands in front of Wisdom’s wheelchair and looking him in the eyes she sternly tells him ‘It’s more medical tests for you!’ Pushing Pete away from the three founding and longest serving members of Excalibur Moira tells Pete that she is going to refrigerate the probes first. Pete scowls as he asks her if that is going to be worse than the places she actually takes his temperature from.

Looking away from Kitty, Kurt says that they are not laughing, Meggan mumbles something as Kitty puts her hands on her hips and says it is not funny at all. Kurt turns back to Kitty and Meggan and tells them that he must depart also, as Hank McCoy is expecting a call from him, and with a bamf Kurt is gone. Meggan asks Kitty if she wants to go for a walk, quite prepared to go anywhere to escape the brimstone stench of Kurt’s teleportation signature.

Walking along the cliff side of Muir Isle, Kitty asks Meggan where Brian is. Meggan informs the young American that her boyfriend is working on the Midnight Flit, the medical plane he promised Moira, and changing the subject, Meggan asks Kitty how Pete really is. Kitty replies that she thinks he misses London as he keeps moaning about the lack of pollution in the air here, though they might fly down once he is better. Meggan tells Kitty that if they do, she needs some new textbooks and also that she has been thinking about a new uniform. Kitty seems a little surprised at this, and is about to mention something when her attention is drawn elsewhere, to the edge of the cliff where another of Excalibur is standing.

It is Rahne Sinclair, sometimes known as Wolfsbane, and in addition to being Excalibur’s newest member, she is Moira MacTaggert’s foster daughter. Kitty asks the former New Mutant what she is doing, and as Kitty and Meggan walk over to her, Rahne informs the senior team members that she thought she saw something like a fire or an explosion over on the mainland, which is why she did a partial shapeshift to sharpen her eyesight.

Meggan smiles and stepping in front of Kitty and Rahne tries her own way of seeing what is on the mainland. Stretching her arms out to either side of her, elemental energies swirl around the blond super hero as she informs her teammates that she and Moira have been doing some testing of her powers, trying to get a handle on what she can and cannot do. Meggan proclaims that they know she is an empathic shapeshifter, sensitive to the way people see her. Meggan remarks that Moira thinks she may grow out of that, before informing the girls that nothing is as interesting as the elemental aspect of her powers.

Meggan informs her teammates that she can actually see and hear the workings of all natural forces, even electromagnetics, which she adds means she could see psychic communications. Meggan guesses that she can “throw” her eyesight across the water and she does it! Meggan can see into a woodland of dark and old trees – and fire! Fire leaping around and torching everything, suddenly there is a detonation and a scream, and Meggan quickly pulls out, her eyesight zapping from the mainland back to her.

Wolfsbane remarks that she can see the detonation, to which Meggan adds that it is fire, but it has an electromagnetic basis. Meggan says that Moira taught her how to see the difference by showing her scan records of Rachel Summers using her powers and that she can tell the fire was started psychically. Kitty asks ‘by who?’ to which Meggan replies that she is left with images of tears and anguish, but nothing definite. Meggan states that she does not read minds, but can almost brush them with her fingertips. Kitty suggests to the other young women that they go have a quick look, asking Meggan if she can get them over there. Somewhat hesitantly, Meggan replies that she can if she wants, but that they should probably tell the others first. Kitty tells Meggan that they should just go check it out, as she has a commlink on if they run into trouble.

Meggan grabs onto Rahne and Kitty, and using her super strength flies them across the water. Rahne mumbles that it does not feel very secure as Kitty watches Meggan out of the corner of her eye – she had forgotten the best thing about Meggan, the fact that there is nobody else in the world who enjoys their powers as much as Meggan.

It takes only seconds to get to the mainland and an eye blink to get to the woods in Kinross – where a figure within the firestorm can just be made out. Hovering above the fire, Kitty asks Meggan to drop her and she will phase in, otherwise they won’t be able to get close enough. Elemental energies beginning to swirl again, Meggan asks if she can show off again, and she does. Meggan reaches out with her power and literally speaks to the flame, and the fire begins to reverse its actions, the hot edges vanish and the blaze is sucked into the Earth. All Meggan did was tell the fire to go away.

The fire obeys the elemental empath, and leaves only a circular column at its core, and the girl who bathed the firestorm. As the three heroines land on the ground, Kitty compliments Meggan, adding that she never fully understood what she could do until now. Meggan thanks her teammate before asking what their next move is. Rahne suggests that the girl is a local girl, like she is, and thinks that if she reverts to her human form, and goes and talks to the girl, it will be less of a shock than either of the others.

As the former New Mutant approaches the girl in the fire, Rahne supposes that she is about fourteen years old – the perfect age for mutant powers to emerge. Rahne crouches by the crying redhead and introduces herself before asking the girl her name. In between tears, the girl tells Rahne that her name is Bridgit Shane. Rahne realizes by Bridgit’s accent that she is not local and mentions this to the girl. Bridgit looks at Rahne and reveals that she and her family moved to Kinross from Edinburgh six years ago. Pausing, Bridgit warns Rahne to stay away, informing her that she is a mutant.

Calmly, Rahne tells Bridgit that she too is a mutant, and motions to the “X” on her uniform, explaining that it means she is working towards a co-existence. Bridgit seems a little taken aback and asks Rahne if she is not ashamed to wear a badge like that, adding that when she found out she was a mutant, she wanted to hide it, and that she would still be hiding if someone hadn’t found out.

Tears still streaming from her eyes, Bridgit reveals that it was the Reverend in Kinross, who saw her lighting candles in church without a match. Bridgit explains that the Reverend locked her in the church with him and told her she was the “spawn of Satan” and that she has now disgraced her parents, and that he would do whatever it took to drive her from the town – from the Earth if he could! A coldness sweeps over Rahne, for she knows who Bridgit is talking about – Reverend Craig! Bridgit adds that she walked out to the woods, and everything caught up with her, she released the fire. She cries some more, saying that she is scared and wants to go home.

Sometime later, Meggan, Rahne and Kitty arrive in the town of Kinross, a village dominated by the church and its huge dark spire, a spire you can see from anywhere in the village, a spire that casts a dark shadow over the people of the town. The three brightly-garbed young women pick up a lot of eye-tracks from the villagers as they walk through the center of town. Firmly, Rahne proclaims that she doesn’t care, and that they can look all the want, for Rahne Sinclair has lived in the shadow of the spire for as long as she can remember. As several drab old men watch the young women, Rahne states that she isn't embarrassed and tells Meggan and Kitty that they shouldn’t be embarrassed either.

Rahne, Kitty and Meggan arrive out front of the church, Rahne starts to open the door. Kitty grabs Rahne by the arm to stop her entering, saying that she knows she is angry, and asks if this is the right time. Rahne tells Kitty that she is definitely angry, but that there will never be a right time, only now. Concerned for Rahne, Meggan sympathetically asks her if she is ready, to which Rahne tells her that Reverend Craig has been dogging her dreams forever, and she wont let him do it to anyone else, informing her that Reverend Craig had her hunted when she was only fourteen years old. As Rahne pushes the old church door open, she says that she is long past being ready.

Rahne walks through the center of the church, its silence a huge and crushing thing. The windows filter out the light of day, the darkness within the church barely broken by a weak row of candles. The door slams behind Rahne, it sounds like thunder and alerts the Reverend to another presence in the church. The aging man turns around, and upon seeing who has entered his church shouts ‘Get yourself from the house of God!’ Rahne ignores him and stands before him at the altar, her anger glowing she tells him that has a much right to be here as he does.

Calling Rahne the “Devil Child” Craig tells her she has no right, and that her very presence poisons the Lord’s kindness. Rahne asks Craig if that is what he told his newest target, Bridgit Shane. Rahne asks Craig if called her a “Devil Child” when her mutantcy manifested, and if he promised to kill her with the Lord’s “kindness”. The unenlightened Reverend raises a fist and tells Rahne that they should have burned her when they had the chance.

Wolfsbane takes a seat on one of the pews and tells Craig that perhaps he should have, what for all those years she spent as his ward, never questioning all the thoughts he filled her head with, perhaps Craig should have burned her – before she met Moira MacTaggert! Rahne tells him that Moira never filled her with thoughts, but showed her how to find information for herself. Rahne tells Craig that he offered nothing but indoctrination, but Rahne found for herself education. Rahne tells Craig that Bridgit Shane is a mutant, like she, and nothing to do with the Devil.

Changing the subject somewhat, Rahne informs Reverend Craig that in all the time she has been away, he has still been in her nightmares. But Rahne has the upper hand, and tells Craig that there was one thing that scared him about her – the fact that she has information – she knows about him! Rahne speaks fast and furious now, telling Craig that there is a big world outside this little town that he doesn’t care about, and why should he? After all, he rules this town as if he were God. Rahne tells him that there is information if you know how to find it, and she has been to places where you can access information through keyboards and phone lines – and has used them!

Craig is silent as Rahne tells him she knows he has not always been in Kinross, that he started his ministry at the Port in Ullapool – which is where he met her mother! ‘A dock workers’ whore’ Craig calls Rahne’s mother. Rahne narrows her eyes and tells Craig that is simply what he says about her, before telling Craig she knows he made her mother his “special project”. But she was a wild one who danced on table tops in late night bars. Rahne remembers the other night, how she, Moira, Meggan and Amanda Sefton danced on a table at a bar, and she smiles inside, thinking that perhaps she is like her mother.

Rahne tells Craig that she knows he was determined to “save” her mothers soul ‘with all that fire and brimstone you do so well’, that he prayed over her sweaty and determined, until she betrayed him by falling pregnant with Rahne. Rahne’s eyes become sad as she reveals her mother died in childbirth, and somehow Reverend Craig became her guardian. Rahne asks Craig why that was, why he would bother with such a woman, unless…Rahne tells Craig what he already knows, that he was quickly pulled out of Ullapool by the church and relocated here to Kinross, a considerable distance away.

Rahne asks Craig why that was, and why he hates her so much, and Bridgit Shane too, who, Rahne adds, also has red hair like she and her mother. As Craig drops to his knees, Rahne asks him if he is weeping, and whether or not he will tell Bridgit’s parents that he made some dreadful mistakes. Rahne tells him that his specter has hung over her for years, and that she has dreamt of his fiery torches for too long. ‘This is my fiery torch’ Rahne tells him, ‘I know about you!’

Reverend Craig cries as he looks up at Rahne Sinclair and tells her he hopes God strikes her down. The brave Rahne turns and leaves the church, the candles burn down as she goes, and Reverend Craig is left alone in an empty building.

Characters Involved: 

Meggan, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Pete Wisdom, Wolfsbane (All Excalibur)

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Reverend Craig

Bridgit Shane

Civilians in Kinross

In Flashback/Rahne’s thoughts

Daytripper, Meggan, Moira MacTaggert, Wolfsbane
Villagers hunting Rahne

Story Notes: 

Wisdom was injured by Colossus in Excalibur #92, after Piotr arrived on Muir Isle and saw him with Kitty.

Meggan’s request for some new textbooks is a reference to her desire for knowledge and the ability to learn, as at the beginning of the Excalibur series she could not read. She has worn her current costume (her second one) since Excalibur #14, and adopts her third (of four) in Excalibur #96.

Throughout this issue, Meggan is incorrectly (though as always with writer Warren Ellis) referred to as a mutant, however she is the last of a race of magical fairies.

Rachel Summers, a former member of Excalibur, whose powers would sometimes flare up in the form of a fiery bird, is the “Phoenix” Meggan is talking about.

Meggan’s powers have always been a little unclear, though from what is established this issue, in previous issues and in issues to come, she has: superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, and durability, levitation, elemental shapeshifting power allows her to change her shape to match her thoughts or surroundings, scan surface level thoughts and emotions from sentient beings, and both sense and manipulate the natural elemental forces of the planet
Reverend Craig’s persecution of Wolfsbane occurred in her first appearance, the classic Marvel Graphic Novel #4 (At a time when she was 13 years old, not 14 as stated here).

Issue Information: 
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